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Recent Publications

“Is Exercise More Important Than Diet ?”

Oct 18, 2020

Experts say that you can’t outrun your forks and the notion that moving more will translate to weight loss is a dangerous one. Do we need to unhitch exercise from our weight-management wagons? Also, is it how much we are eating or what we are eating? Over the years, studies have found that a high body mass index (BMI) is linked to higher rates of all-cause mortality. Obesity increases the risk of developing dozens of health problems. In the past four decades, obesity rates have doubled in more than 70 countries and steadily increased in almost every country across the world. In 2015, high BMI was found to be the cause of 4 million deaths globally, with more than two-thirds of those deaths due to cardiovascular disease. A recent study suggests that individuals who adhered to a Mediterranean diet, (which emphasizes vegetables, fruits, fish, nuts, unrefined grains, and fermented dairy products) and were overweight—but not obese—had the lowest rates of all-cause mortality. These studies suggest that a diet like this can lead to health benefits like reduced blood pressure, lower inflammation and lipid levels, and improved metabolism. Of course, there are a number of factors at play here. The authors note that overweight people appear to be less likely to exercise. Also, it’s unclear whether exercise is any more important than several other risk-lowering factors, like attaining a higher level of education, according to the results. One of the studies cited found that exercise capacity “is a more powerful predictor of mortality among men than other established risk factors for cardiovascular disease,” including BMI. Another study, which analyzed the health of over 334,000 individuals, found that twice as many deaths could be attributed to a lack of physical activity than those attributed to obesity.

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“COVID-19 Distracts from Imminent Global Infectious-Disease Threat”

Oct 11, 2020

According to the CDC, nearly 3 million Americans per year contract an antibiotic-resistant bacterial infection. Of those, roughly 35,000 die. Globally, approximately 700,000 die from these infections every year. The World Health Organization projects that, at current rates, around 10 million people could die from antibiotic-resistant infections annually by 2050. As bacteria become more resistant to antibiotics, the risk of catastrophic consequences increases. Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest public health challenges of our time. Antibiotic resistance leads to higher medical costs, prolonged hospital stays, and increased mortality. Because of the over prescription of antibiotics, the overuse of them in livestock, and other factors, many different kinds of bacterial infections including strains of gonorrhea, tuberculosis, and salmonella have become extremely hard, sometimes even impossible, to treat. That’s because the tiny portion of bacteria that survive these antibiotics evolve and reproduce, developing resistance. Around the world, 230,000 die each year from antibiotic-resistant tuberculosis alone. It’s increasingly likely that bacterial infections will be very difficult to treat if not untreatable. A May review found that among about 2,000 hospitalized COVID-19 patients worldwide, 72% received antibiotics even though only 8% had documented bacterial or fungal infections. Experts say that the superbug crisis (“nightmare bacteria”) has been simmering along and needs to be discussed more often.

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“Vitamin D Reduces COVID-19 Risks”

Oct 04, 2020

We have been told that coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is a major pandemic and a leading cause of death worldwide. Currently, no drugs/vaccine is available for treatment. Future preventions and social distancing are the only ways to prevent this disease from community transmission. But Vitamin D is an important micronutrient and has been reported to improve immunity and protect against respiratory illness. A third wave of coronavirus (CoV) infections has swept the world and brought it to its knees. This new CoV infection (COVID-19) originated in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China in December 2019. The causative agent for this respiratory illness is severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-COV-2). This epidemic has a high infection transmission rate and in general, the direct cause of death is severe atypical pneumonia. The disease spread rapidly from the initial epicenter, Wuhan, to rest of the world and has become a pandemic. The main risk factors include pneumonia, acute kidney failure, acute heart failure. The global COVID-19 outbreak has placed devastating impact on every community. People with underlying health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and the elderly above 60 years are most susceptible to COVID-19.

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“Please Leave My Oysters Alone”

Sep 27, 2020

As a native Louisianian, I truly love oysters. Now, Cambridge scientists and profiteers are planning to “alter” or fortify shellfish, including oysters, to tackle human nutrient deficiencies which cause severe health problems across the world. The team is now working with major seafood manufacturers to further test their microencapsulation technology, or “Vitamin Bullets”. Here is their pitch: “Over two billion people worldwide are nutrient deficient, leading to a wide range of serious health problems. Fortifying food with micronutrients is already an industry standard for enhancing public health. Scientists have teamed up to supercharge one of the world’s most healthy and sustainable sources of animal protein: bivalve shellfish such as oysters, clams and mussels.” They have produced the world’s first microcapsule (“Vitamin Bullets”) specially designed to deliver nutrients to bivalves which are beneficial to human health. When we eat bivalves, we consume the entire organism including its gut, meaning that we digest the nutrients which the animals consumed towards the end of their lives. The scientists tested Vitamin A and D fortified microcapsules on over 100 oysters to identify the optimal dose. The team found that fortified oysters delivered around 100 times more Vitamin A, and over 150 times more Vitamin D, than natural oysters.

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“Covid-19 Has Changed Medical Practices”

Sep 20, 2020

The effects of COVID-19 extend far beyond our physical wellbeing, are altering medicine overall and some of these changes will stay long after the crisis is over. The best hope anyone has to survive and thrive in a post-COVID world is to brace for “the new normal,” whatever that may be. And it may be a far cry from the old normal. There’s no telling how much—or little—this pandemic will affect hospitals, clinics, and physicians in the long term. But the evidence that some effects will become permanent is compelling. Physicians will operate in a healthcare system altered by financial ruin, technology, and other evolutions spurred by the pandemic. Here are four changes that experts believe will occur. 1) Clinics and Hospitals Close. The American Hospital Association estimates that COVID-19 has collectively cost US hospitals more than $50 billion per month since March. By mid-August, at least 18 US hospitals had closed this year.

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“Medical Practices Lack Solid Scientific Support”

Sep 13, 2020

In September of 2020, shocking headlines stated, “Only 1 in 10 medical treatments is backed by high-quality evidence.” Most believe that the treatments prescribed by their doctors are supported by high-quality scientific studies but that is far from being true. An analysis in the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, concluded that only 9.9 percent of recommended treatments had high-quality evidence according to the gold-standard method for determining whether they provide high or low-quality evidence, called GRADE (grading of recommendations, assessment, development and evaluation). Using the same system, 37 percent had moderate, 31 percent had low, and 22 percent had very low-quality evidence. Lack of high-quality evidence, according to GRADE, means that future studies might overturn the results. Studies that are “blinded” – in which patients don’t know whether they are getting the actual treatment or a placebo – offer higher-quality evidence than “unblinded” studies. Blinding is important because people who know what treatment they are getting can experience greater placebo effects than those who do not know what treatment they are getting. Many poor-quality trials are being published. It is estimated that there are currently 25 thousand medical/scientific journals turning out over one million publications annually. It is also estimated that 50% of these papers have reached the wrong conclusions. The tsunami of trials published every year, combined with the need to publish in order to survive in academia, has led to a great deal of rubbish being published.

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“Dementia Review 2020”

Sep 06, 2020

With the current presidential campaigns in full swing, the subject of dementia has been raised as it relates to both candidates. A little review is in order. As we age, we experience many physical and cognitive changes. Older people often have a decrease in recall memory. This is called normal memory loss and is part of the expected changes with aging. When you have troubles with memory – but they don’t interfere with your daily activities – this is called mild cognitive impairment. Your doctor might recommend the MoCA, or Montreal Cognitive Assessment test, which screens for memory problems and helps determine if more evaluation is needed. Dementia tends to be a slow-moving progression that occurs over months or years. Depression can also cause memory changes, particularly as we get older. Alzheimer’s dementia is the most common type of dementia, followed by vascular dementia. They have similar symptoms: confusion, getting lost, forgetting close friends or family, or an inability to do calculations like balance the checkbook. And, as with any disease or disease group, dementia is not a “character flaw,” and the term should not be used to criticize a person. Dementia is a serious medical diagnosis. Approximately 6 million Americans have dementia and nearly a half-million new Alzheimer’s cases will be diagnosed annually. Dementia, which is not technically a disease but a term for impaired ability to think, remember or make decisions, is one of the most feared impairments of old age. About 5% of those aged 71 to 79 have dementia, and about 37% of those about 90 years old live with it.

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“Concussion Risks and Terry Bradshaw”

Aug 30, 2020

With the return of football season, we need to have an increased awareness of the dangers of concussions. People who sustain a concussion may be at increased risk for a wide range of neurological and psychological conditions later in life. A new study reveals that people with a concussion diagnosis are more likely to develop mood and anxiety disorders, dementia, and Parkinson’s disease than individuals in the control group. In 2011, Hall of Fame quarterback, Terry Bradshaw said he is feeling the effects of numerous concussions sustained during his NFL career. The 62-year-old Shreveport native said he has been having short-term memory loss as well as the loss of hand-eye coordination. Bradshaw told KTBS-TV that he sustained at least six concussions, plus an unknown number of instances where there was a blow to the head that would require him to “clear the cobwebs.” Bradshaw penned a deal with CBS Sports soon after his retirement to become an NFL analyst and is currently the co-host of Fox NFL Sunday. He has an estimated net worth of $15 million. Terry Bradshaw also has clinical depression, diagnosed in 1999. He takes medication to properly balance the serotonin in his brain.

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“Dementia Drugs Require Caution”

Aug 23, 2020

A new study reports that nearly three-quarters of older adults with dementia have filled prescriptions for medicines that act on their brain and nervous system but aren’t designed for dementia. That’s despite the potentially harmful risks that such drugs carry for older adults and the lack of evidence that they actually ease the dementia-related behavior problems that often prompt a doctor’s prescription in patients with Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders. In fact, some of the drugs have been linked to a worsening of cognitive symptoms in old adults. The study was published in the journal JAMA and based on data from 737,839 people with dementia and was the first large-scale study of prescription-filling patterns for psychoactive medications outside of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. Nearly half of those in the study received an antidepressant, which might be prescribed to try to counteract the withdrawal and apathy often seen in dementia, but antidepressants don’t treat this aspect of dementia. Even so, the study shows antidepressant prescribing at nearly triple the rate for older adults overall. The new study suggests a need to reduce prescribing to people in nursing homes and those living at home with dementia, too. In all, 73.5% of the study’s community-based population filled at least one prescription for an antidepressant, opioid painkiller, epilepsy drug, anxiety medication, or antipsychotic drug in a one-year period.

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“Viral Infections May Last A Lifetime”

Aug 09, 2020

Many viral infections may linger and “hideout” in your body after you have seemingly recovered from the initial infection. Currently, millions are recovering from COVID-19 infections and we do not know to what extent this virus can linger on in your body. When viruses linger around, they may lead to additional spreading of the disease and prolonged symptoms. A chronic or persistent infection continues for months or years, during which time the virus is being continually produced, albeit in many cases at low levels. Frequently, these infections occur in a so-called immune-privileged site, where it is less accessible to the immune system and the body has difficulty in trying to eradicate it. Such immune-privileged sites include the central nervous system (brain), the testes, and the eye. A latent infection occurs when the virus is present within an infected cell but dormant and not multiplying. The latent virus may integrate into the human genome – as does HIV. A latent virus can reactivate and produce infectious viruses, and this can occur months to decades after the initial infection. The best example of this is chickenpox, which although seemingly eradicated by the immune system can reactivate and cause herpes zoster (shingles) decades later.

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